What to Look For in a Partner: Because You’re Not Going to Get it All in One Person

What to Look For in a Partner: Because You’re Not Going to Get it All in One Person

Mr/Ms Right on paper Vs Mr/Ms Right in reality

Feb 2016: A Jewish atheist and a Christian theologian walk into a bar… and walk out holding hands after much talking, laughing and smooching. Who’d have thunk it!

I’m about 6 weeks into an intriguing new relationship. (What was that I said just 7 weeks ago about it always being ‘darkest before the dawn’, and why you should never, ever, give up? If you’re feeling a little ‘ho-hum, I can’t be bothered with this dating thing’, you might want to go read that.) I very rarely meet someone who excites me (in a potential husband kind of way) and even more rarely meet someone I excite in return (in a potential wife kind of way), so it’s all very exciting.

He couldn’t be more different from my most recent ex-boyfriend. In fact, pretty much the only thing they have in common is that they’re both nice guys. But that’s where the similarities end. Naturally, as my ex is my ex, my current beau and I have much more going for us as a couple (as far as I’m aware at this early stage), and the future looks bright.

But is he the kind of guy I’d always pictured myself with? In some ways, yes. In many ways, hell no! And I’m not quite the girl he pictured himself with. And you know what? That’s okay.

If you won’t accept anything less than a perfect relationship, you’ll probably end up with no relationship

If you find yourself single anytime from about age 35 and beyond, you should have woken up to the fact that you’re probably not going to get absolutely everything you want in one partner, and they’re probably not going to get absolutely everything they want in you. And if you do, you simply won the relationship lottery. Holding out for a 10/10 relationship (or at least a 9.5/10 relationship) might very well keep you single for the rest of your life.

An 8/10 relationship is not only a good relationship, but a far more realistic and worthwhile goal to strive for. It will give you love, stability, companionship, affection, a family (whether or not that includes children) and more happiness over 40-odd years than you would have had chasing that elusive 9.5 – 10 relationship and not finding it.

The important distinction between compromising and settling

‘But, Elly, surely you’re not asking me to settle?’ Surely not! I couldn’t think of anything worse than settling – not my style at all. If it were, I would have been married a long time ago.

My dating coach, Evan Marc Katz, whose epic course, Love U, I took in 2015, makes a clever distinction between compromising and settling: ‘You compromise your way into happiness. You settle your way into misery.’

You know you’ve compromised if the trade-off was worth it and, ultimately, you’re happy. You know you’ve settled when you’re bitter, resentful and, ultimately, miserable.

Sometimes, compromising can feel like settling, which is why this fine line can be so tricky.

The mistake most people make when choosing a life partner

So, what constitutes an 8/10 relationship? Great question!

When I say to strive for an 8/10 relationship, I don’t mean it’s okay for someone to be an asshole or a bitch 20% of the time.

I think most people, when dating, place too much emphasis on the wrong qualities (physical attraction, emotional connection, common interests and the like) and not enough emphasis on the right qualities (character, communication, how you treat each other and the like). For instance, if they’re not the best looking person you’ve ever dated, if it’s not the hottest sex you’ve ever had in your life, if it’s not the strongest ‘bond’ you’ve ever felt, if they don’t enjoy stamp-collecting as much as you do… that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fulfilling relationship.

So, here’s what to look for in a partner: You need at least a 9/10 on the important qualities, in which case you can have a 7/10 on the not-so-important qualities, which will average you out at 8/10 for a truly great relationship. I also think you can kick an 8/10 relationship up to a 9/10 relationship with two willing participants, time, empathy, communication and pro-activity. In short, the stronger your relationship skills, the greater your chances are of having a high-quality relationship.

Why you should never compare your relationship to other couples’ relationships

Do I know some couples with a 9.5 – 10 relationship? Yes. At least I think I do. But not many. And do I envy them? A little. But no more than I’d envy someone who won the lottery.

Their windfall doesn’t mean I can’t be happy with what I have.

And while they might have had a windfall in the relationship department, their lives may be troubled in other areas, such as career, money, family, friends or health. In any case, what’s the point in comparing your life to someone else’s? Your life is your life. Their life is their life. They’re mutually exclusive. Your job is to make your life as great as possible in whatever way ‘great’ means to you. If you have a windfall along the way, fabulous! If you don’t, that doesn’t necessarily spell doom and gloom.

It’s an Olympic year this year. When you watch those eight finalists compete in Rio – whether it’s the 100m sprint or the 1500m freestyle – only one gets to take home the gold medal. Would the other seven like to have taken home the gold medal? Of course! They wouldn’t be in the race if they didn’t. They’ve done nothing but train for years, if not decades, in the hope of winning Olympic gold. But are they happy they won a silver, bronze, made it to the final, or are simply able to call themselves an ‘Olympian’ for the rest of their lives? I’m sure they are.

Unromantic? I think not!

As for my new beau and I, we dig each other. So far, we have three of the four Cs: chemistry, compatibility and communication (the most important one!). Over time, we’ll see if the fourth C falls into place: commitment. Naturally, the four Cs aren’t perfect for either of us but, so far, they’re pretty damn good.

While I’m sure you’ll agree this post made good sense, sometimes good sense can come off as a little clinical and unromantic.

So, before I wrap this up, let me have a bit of a ravey-poo about my new fella so you can see just how special he is to me (and we are to each other):

My Lil Rock Star,

You are wonderfully intelligent, deep, passionate, outgoing, fun, funny, entrepreneurial, musically talented (I can’t believe you never pursued it professionally – weirdo), truly unique and ‘dead sexy’ in more ways than I could have hoped for. We can talk the leg off a chair, sing the roof off a house, watch movies, TV, comedy and live shows together like a boss, and party like it’s 1999. Most importantly, you’re the best communicator I’ve ever dated, although you’d have to be… You certainly have some, err, interesting points of view to get across (wink, wink). I’m looking forward to getting to know you better and seeing where this journey takes us.

Hugs & kisses,
Your Lil Groupie

Update: 2.5 years later in 2018

David and I have now been together for over two years, living together for over a year, and planning to get married in 2019. (We’re not officially engaged yet, so that’ll be a fun surprise!) I thought I might end up with an 8/10 relationship with him, but I didn’t. I’m now one of those 9.5/10 relationship people that everyone hates (LOL!). Our relationship is effortless. It’s not a ‘head over heels in love’ feeling. It’s a relaxed, stable, blissfully happy feeling, which is so much better. Yup, this is it.

If you only do ONE THING while you’re here…

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Further info from two gurus

Still want to know what to look for in a partner? Still confused as to what are important qualities Vs not-so-important qualities, or the difference between compromising and settling? My dating coach, Evan Marc Katz, does a great job of explaining it here, especially towards the end. It’s only a 6min video, so it’s worth watching. I also liked what matchmaker, Kate Edwards, said about Mr/Ms Right rarely coming in the package you’d expected.

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  1. […] Epilogue: Guess what! You might be interested to know I met my current boyfriend less than a week after publishing this post. As I mentioned above, ‘It’s always darkest before the dawn.’ You can read a bit about him here. […]

    Online Dating Experiences & Why You Should Never Give Up 16th March 2016, 10:48 pm
  2. Henriette's Gravatar

    Love it, Ms. Elly! I’m curious: in your “4 Cs,” why isn’t “Character” in there as numero cinco? oxo, H.

    • Elly Klein's Gravatar

      Because that would be five Cs and I only had room for four… kidding! 😉 You’re right. I think I should add a 5th C. There are also other Cs like compassion, care and comic genius… LOL! I might top it up to 10. I’m being cheeky. You’re spot on. Thanks for the comment. xooo

  3. […] Epilogue (2017): For various reasons, our relationship didn’t work out. But that’s okay. I’ve now been with my new boyfriend for a year and we’re blissfully happy together. […]

    Dating with Dignity Part 2: How I Found a Wonderful Boyfriend 16th December 2016, 4:44 pm
  4. […] Epilogue: 2016: I moved on from MNG and have now been with my ‘fearless communicator’ for almost a year. We’re about to move in together. I’m significantly happier with him. […]

    Dating with Dignity Part 3: The good, the bad & the breakup 9th September 2017, 6:22 am
  5. Kirsten Jocumsen's Gravatar

    Having known you for about a decade, I know how passionate you have always been to find your team mate! I’m so happy that I met David so early in the piece! Was it your 3rd date? He spent hours at my house and just fit in and was comfortable with the situation and also showing his interest in you in front of your friend plus everyone else there on Australia Day. He showed a lovely amount of affection to you. There was no pretence, no “playing it cool”. But his behaviour was still appropriate for that very early stage of the relationship. He is also very inclusive, had interesting opinions and knowledge on subjects that I didn’t know much about or really had even thought of yet. We didn’t agree on everything but he communicated things in such a way that gave me pause to think. I’ve said this to you before Elly – I never had a picture in my head about who you were going to be with personality and looks wise. But when I saw you and David together, I though – aha! This is probably him. It felt natural from the outside looking in. You were there in your full blown “Elly-ness” and you could see he wanted more! Couldn’t be happier for both of you! You and I were in the same boat – single for a bit longer than we wanted to be. The message is that everyone has their own timeline. Don’t panic! Don’t settle because of expectations of where you “should” be at a certain age. But certainly be proactive in your search for love. Stay open – you never know where or when it will come along. I’m definitely the poster child for that! I was blindsided with my “favourite”, but I discover new things every day about him and my love deepens every day. We have so much fun together, we talk about extremely meaningful things (you know about my past Elly). I can tell him everything feeling safe I won’t be judged or be scared off by things being “complicated”. He wants to know everything. He has been by my side for every doctors appointment, every trip to the hospital. He doesn’t feel like it’s a burden because – you know – he’s found what he was looking for as well! Talk about compromise! He doesn’t check a lot of those boxes that I thought were absolutely necessary, but he definitely checks the important ones. One thing I would add as a vital quality in your partner is that they make you feel safe in the relationship – they are not going to leave, they express their commitment, you feel special and safe from any kind of abuse.
    Now that was a ramble but I hope it makes sense!

    Kirsten Jocumsen 2nd February 2018, 1:29 pm
    • Elly Klein's Gravatar

      Aww, thanks for taking the time to write that thoughtful comment, Kirsten. Yep, it was our 3rd date that you met David. I liked him. I wasn’t like, ‘OMG, he’s my soul mate!’ Our relationship grew over time, but it did get off to a great start.

      I couldn’t agree more with what you said here: ‘One thing I would add as a vital quality in your partner is that they make you feel safe in the relationship.’ Touche! It’s so important, and something I think too many people discount because they’re ‘in love’ and something from that person is better than nothing. Wrong! A lifetime with someone requires trust, loyalty, harmony and stability. No matter how ‘in love’ you think you are, you won’t be happy if you don’t feel a 100% mutual commitment.

      I’m glad you finally found your ‘favourite’. I’m looking forward to meeting him. We’ll have to come up to Brissy sometime. xooo